Let me guess why you’re here. Did your favorite pair of cans just snap on you? Are you finally retiring your trusty headphones you’ve had for years? Or maybe you’re just here because you need a good deal on headphones as soon as possible, no questions asked.
I get it. And I’m here to help. What you see before you is the definitive guide to the best cheap headphone deals anywhere on the ‘net – well, OK, almost anywhere.
A few words of caution before you dive into the world of discount audio, however. First off, headphones can be cheap. Like, dirt cheap. But as tempting as it is to shell out for the first pair of $5/£3 headphones you see, you need to resist that urge. The kind of headphones you find in discount bins around the world are there for a reason – they suck.
Uber cheap headphones are bad for a number of reasons, but the main two are that they usually don’t sound very good and, worse, they’re usually made from cheap components. (Trust me, the latter impacts the former more than you might expect.) So it’s with that in mind that I narrowed down a list of headphones that not only sound good and feel good, but are priced appropriately for all you cost-conscious audioholics out there.
So what’s a good deal?
It’s hard to put a number on it, and the form factor of the headphone usually has a lot to do with its price. A good pair of cheap in-ear headphones are going to cost a lot less than a good pair of cheap over-ear headphones. That being said, I’ll highlight a few styles below so you can pick and choose which style – and price-point – works for you.
But don’t worry. As long as you’re cutting 30% off retail and staying away from some of the bigger headphone manufacturers who tend to inflate their prices (cough, Beats), you can hardly go wrong.
Without further ado, here are the best headphone deals we found this month.
We’ve made a number of favorable remarks about Sennheiser’s Momentum In-Ears in the past. We’ve called them “among the best deals in the headphones market as it stands today” and said that they “raise the bar for sound performance” in the budget headphone genre. All of that holds true. If you’re looking for a pair of wired in-ears, these are your guys. Specs-wise the Momentum In-Ears weigh about .3 lbs and have a 4.2-foot cable. The frequency response is about 15 to 22,000Hz, which means it can handle highs, mids and lows with relative ease. It has some problems with compatibility, however, so just make sure you check to make sure it’ll work with your handset before you push the ‘buy now’ button.
Read the review: Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear
Why should you pick the Optoma NuForce BE Sport3 instead of the Momentum In-Ear, because it’s one of the cheapest (and best-sounding) in-ear headphones we’ve ever found. And, good news, it’s usually on sale to boot. Not only are these earbuds IP55 rated, making them rain, dust and sweat resistant, but they also have really balanced sound that works well for every genre and incredible noise isolation. They’re perfect for the gym because they weigh just 18 grams and don’t need to connect to your phone via a dangling, easy-to-knock off cable. Optoma says the frequency response goes from 20 to 20,000Hz, and it has a sensitivity of 102dB +/-3dB at 1kHz. On the debit side, though, there are some horror stories out there of the BE Sport3’s batteries being a bit difficult to work with, so keep that in mind.
We’re not sure how Skullcandy crammed such excellent-sounding drivers into such a cheap headset, but somehow, some way, it absolutely did. The Skullcandy Grind is one of our favorite wired on-ear headphones – it’s cheap, sounds incredible and looks awesome. Also, while most headphones make a statement using a logo, branding on these headphones is subtle, with a small logo stamped onto each of the sidearms. While Skullcandy isn’t super transparent about the specs of its headsets, the Grind offers exquisite sound quality, complete with beefy bass response and articulate delivery of mids and highs. We tried a wide variety of music samples to see if we could find a weak point in these cans and, nope, we couldn’t. The only weak point here is that it doesn’t have volume controls built-in. But that’s not a huge bummer.
Jabra might not be a name you’ve heard before – it’s not Beats and doesn’t spend boatloads on advertising. What it does instead with that money is create lightweight, great-sounding wireless headphones for a fraction of the competition. If you’re looking for the hard specs here, the Jabra Move Wireless weighs about .33 pounds and packs in two 1.5″ drivers. These help the Move Wireless have a frequency range of 20 to 20,000Hz, and a sensitivity of 94db @ 1kHz. The battery is rated for eight hours, and will work about 33 feet (11 meters) from the source. From the fun and edgy design to excellent performance, these cans come recommended for anyone interested in wireless on the cheap.
When it comes to headphones, the general consensus is that you very much get what you pay for. But with AKG’s K92, what you’re getting is so much more. These headphones offer a level of sound quality that far outstrip their budget price tag. That being said, these are some of the largest cans you might ever find, and therefore might not be the best choice for anyone out there who has a petite noggin. Specs-wise, however, it’s all good. The K92’s professional 40mm drivers offer an extended 16 – 20,000Hz frequency response with a 113 dB SPL/V sensitivity level. It has a cable length of about 9 feet (3 meters) and weighs around 200 grams.
Squeaking right under £100/$100 is Creative’s SoundBlaster EVO ZxR, a solid pair of noise-cancelling cans made by one of the world’s top audio companies. What makes the ZxR so special is that it builds a PC-grade sound card right into the headset, helping your music unlock its fullest potential. For frequent travelers, the ZxR offers a noise-cancelling feature, making it one of the cheapest headphones to do such a thing. Inside are two 50mm FullSpectrum drivers that have a frequency range between 20 and 20,000Hz, and the headset also has an accompanying mobile app that allows you to tweak the sound to your heart’s content. Creative’s cans might be made for gamers, but budget audiophiles will still find a lot to love here.